How you can benefit your bottom line by empowering citizens with self-service

This past fall, Joel Cherkis, our General Manager of Worldwide Government and Security, contributed a great post on the "the consumerization of IT," talking about its impact on the public sector. Looking at the concept broadly, the consumerization of IT basically means that the technology expectations we have in our personal lives are now carrying over into our work and business lives.

For government, one of the largest challenges that this presents is providing constituents with the type of customer service and tools that they’ve come to expect from the private sector. It’s no secret that in the last five years or so the private sector has revolutionized customer service. With fast and easy self-service tools, people can pretty much do anything they need to do online, from tracking packages and filing taxes to making customizable purchases online for things as complex as insurance or as simple as pizza. These are all self-service capabilities that consumers now expect, and they’re looking to government for the same experience.

While on the surface this may appear to be yet another IT spend for your government organization, it can actually be a very strategic opportunity for your organization to improve its bottom line - and boost efficiency. From our customers who’ve implemented citizen self-service initiatives, here are some of the top benefits we’re hearing about:

  • Reducing in-bound call volumes and time spent managing/processing citizen service requests
  • Eliminating time spent handling paperwork by automating business processes
  • Dramatically speeding up the delivery of constituent services, ranging from licensing to grants management, by establishing self-service portals online
  • Spotting opportunities to boost efficiency and save money with business intelligence collected through a centralized ERP/CRM system

These testimonials speak to the cost savings and efficiencies that are possible by adopting a more customer-focused approach to governance. A shining example of what’s possible is the UK’s pioneering Government Gateway system, which we recently blogged about. Today, 166 enabled services from over 55 government offices are made accessible to UK citizens using the system. People use the Gateway for a seemingly endless list of services, from claiming child tax credits to paying parking fines to checking pension entitlements. The result has helped the UK government lower operational costs, while improving satisfaction among citizens by empowering them with self-service tools. Be sure to check our website to view a variety of case studies that show the big impact that self-service can have on government organizations and their constituents.

Also, to learn about other strategies than can help your organization save money and operate more efficiently, we encourage you to visit a new section of our worldwide public sector website: A plan for government IT that reflects the times.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at

Michele Bedford Thistle
Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Michele Bedford Thistle | Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

Michele is focused on sharing stories from government customers creating real impact for citizens, employees, economies, and students. She joined the worldwide team from Microsoft Canada, where she was also marketing lead for several technology start-ups. Read More